Amerikakoffert or killing 3 birds with one stone


This is our family’s Swedish Chest. Note the remains of the shipping labels.  It came to the US with Farmar (father’s mother). This blog is killing three birds with one stone because I am taking a photography class so I can take better photographs for this blog, I need another blog post, and I recently applied to something where I did not take the time to really think about one answer or perhaps provide sufficient information for that answer so…this is homework, a blog post as there is a quilt top involved, and further details for my application.

So back to the the Amerikakoffert. The second and third generation of Swedish immigrants in our family never knew Farmar’s name. As a result of my ‘application’ I have done a little more research into my Swedish ancestry. A hint to Farmar’s name has been in my possession since I was about ten years old, yet I never noticed! First here’s a little background information. My grandmother, Anna Louisa Almquist (Annie), was born in the US to Swedish immigrants. Her father used the name Charles August Almquist (Charlie). Her mother was Beda Norlin. I do have a daguerreotype of their wedding. I have a photograph taken in Sweden of Farmar with two young boys, one of which is Charlie. It has always been told that Charlie joined the merchant marines to come to the US. We understood that he changed his name when he joined the merchant marines, which was allegedly common practice. Phonetically, the Swedish family name was rumored to have been Miller. Farmar’s name had remained unknown, but it was believed to have been Miller. When I was young, my grandmother would tell me stories of Farmar and how she was brought to the US much later by Charlie and with her came the Swedish chest. I was given the Swedish chest as a child, and it has been with me ever since. I also have many of the articles that have always been thought to have come over with the chest. On my mantle in my childhood bedroom, I had the Swedish bible or bibeln. The first page is partially missing, but Charlie’s original name is written: Carl August Moller. The bilbeln was given to him at his confirmation on August 3, 1877. Carl August Moller was born September 28, 1862 in Kulla, Kristberg parish, Ostergotland County, Sweden. His mother, Farmar, was Anna Lena Svensdotter! She married in this parish on November 11, 1860. We had, and should still have, a photograph of a small house with an elderly couple in front, which was marked “Ma” and “Pa”. I don’t know who these people are or if they are Mollers or Norlins. The shack, really, was in a treeless and rocky landscape. The family stories said the Almquists/Mollers were from ‘near Lapland’. My non-Swedish mother said they were from Swedish Lapland. Other Swedes, I have heard, think people from Ostergotland are quite ‘different’…in what way? I would like to know from where both branches of the family hail and if Charlie was running away from something when he joined the merchant marines;i.e., the law or hunger?

I would also like to know more about the Norlins and why they left Sweden. A briefly located relation of the Norlins in Sweden was a Lars-Hugo Norlin who appeared to reside in Soderham, Sweden in the 1990’s. Lars-Hugo was located as a result of a letter in my grandmother’s possession, but he passed on before any other information was obtained. We do know he had heard of the Norlins that had emmigrated. I have Beda leaving Sweden with her mother Sofia and her sister Katrina. They left September 21, 1883 from Vasternorrlands via Stockholm to New York. Sofia, a widow, was 58, Beda was 18 and Katrina was 21. They arrived in NY on October 10, 1883 aboard the Habsburg from Bremen, Germany. I have walked on the lands of my US ancestors back to 1642 all my life, but I would like to know more about the Swedish side, the side to which my grandmother related as she felt more Swedish than American. I want the stories to come alive, to touch and see my Swedish side.

Look at the old quilt top.  It is thought to have been made by either Beda or Farmar._MG_9615  The design is basic and must have been old clothes reused. I don’t know what to do with it. I framed a few pieces of it for my daughter, niece and nephew when they were young. Surely, unappreciated at the age they were given!

Here are some of the contents that came over from Sweden in the chest.  _MG_9628

Here’s a picture of Beda, Farmar and ? .  I love it.  Fishing in Rhode Island.Scanned Image 4

So here’s hoping my photographs are improving, my post is interesting, and that I’ll have a Swedish adventure!

About quiltify

Crazy about functional art: quilting; travel, family, and New England.
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2 Responses to Amerikakoffert or killing 3 birds with one stone

  1. segurry says:

    Hi Jan, Wow. You have a lot of interesting information about your family history, and I love the chest and it’s contents. And the fact that there is a quilt involved is fascinating also! Can you provide the translation to “Amerikakoffert”?. Now I understand why you were killing 3 birds with one stone in this post.

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